Biggest investment to healthcare in Swindon

We have secured £26.3million of Government funding to progress an exciting urgent and emergency care expansion.

This is in addition to £5.5million of internal funds that the organisation had available.

This funding was initially ring-fenced in 2018, when the Trust launched its Way Forward Programme which looked to develop the hospital site over the coming years.

Over the last four years, complex planning has been underway to design the new development and the Trust recently had its business case approved by the Department of Health and Social Care that has allowed the funds to be released to the organisation so that construction work can commence.

The urgent and emergency care expansion will be the biggest ever investment to the hospital site and follows the opening of the new Urgent Treatment Centre and Radiotherapy Centre in 2022, which already represent a huge investment in Swindon’s healthcare infrastructure.

It will support new ways of working, which will help right-size the organisation for the growing population of Swindon and Wiltshire; enabling better flow and increased bed capacity so that staff are better equipped to manage the increased demand.

The new Integrated Front Door

In July 2022, the new Urgent Treatment Centre was opened on the Great Western Hospital site, which marked the first phase of the urgent and emergency care expansion.

Now, efforts are focused on expanding the Emergency Department, and relocating a number of other services, including assessment units, to create an improved and more joined-up urgent and emergency care service.

This new emergency ‘front door’ will also have a new Children’s Emergency Unit, which will combine the current Children’s Emergency Department and Paediatric Assessment Unit (PAU).

The new urgent and emergency care expansion will bring together a new large modern Emergency Department, a much more capable Same Day Emergency Care facility, and our new Children’s Emergency Unit, all in one big space.

All of these services will also link directly with the new Urgent Treatment Centre, so that patients can easily move between services to receive the right care depending on their clinical needs.

Expanding Same Day Emergency Care will reduce admissions and shorten length of stay. The co-location of services will also ensure a more rapid discharge for patients who do not need admitting to a ward, and quicker handover times for ambulance crews so they can get back on the road. 

Moving some services from other areas of the hospital, such as the Paediatric Assessment Unit currently located on the second floor, to the ground floor will also free up space for more clinical activity or inpatient beds.

Enabling works have already started to prepare the site for construction. This includes clearing the space outside of the Emergency Department and rerouting the walk-in entrance through the Urgent Treatment Centre.

Kevin McNamara, Chief Executive, said: “This is an extraordinary milestone for the Trust, and is the biggest investment we have made to the hospital site since it opened 20 years ago.

“Expanding and improving our urgent and emergency care services will make a huge difference to the 750,000 people living in Swindon and the wider area that we serve, many of whom will come to us for care at some point in their lives

“When the hospital was opened in 2002, the Emergency Department was designed to care for around 48,000 patients a year. As the local population has grown, the urgent and emergency services now see over 100,000 patients a year – more than double.

“We’ve been working hard to secure the funding for a number of years, and I’m pleased that the time has now come for us to be able to expand and streamline our services so that they can meet the demand and allow us to think differently about how we care for patients needing urgent and emergency care.

“This development is so important for our growing town and forms just one of a number of projects currently underway to further expand and improve our local NHS. Work is also continuing at pace to unlock additional funding for new services to be built on the plot of land we have purchased next to the hospital site.”

Minister for Health, Lord Markham, said: “This is a significant milestone for the people in Swindon – the expansion of urgent and emergency care facilities at the Great Western Hospital means more people can be treated closer to home, improving patient experience and ensuring staff are better equipped to manage increasing demand.

“Backed by over £26 million of government funding – the biggest ever investment in this site – a single urgent and emergency care unit will bring together different services including major incidents, resuscitation, same day care and initial assessment under one roof so patients get the right care more quickly, boosting health outcomes and reducing the time spent in hospital.”

The new building is expected to be completed in spring 2024 with the refurbishment to follow in summer 2024.

For more questions, please email gwh.wayforward@nhs.net.